Category Archives: Joy

2020 Vision: Who Am I?

“Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name,
Would care to feel my hurt?
Who am I, that the Bright and Morning Star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart?”v.1

It was a beautiful day. Windows open. Radio on. Harmonizing to a song I know pretty well. Stretches that really help the knees keep bending. Time in the water at the gym. A great conversation with a fellow Durham school librarian. An old book I’m re-discovering and I wonder why now? A new book that I can’t wait to uncover and wonder why now? A short time to enjoy the patio swing before getting busy wasting time.
I am blessed.

“…what is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of man that You care for him?”Ps 8:4b

This verse has been on my mind all weekend. Not sure why – except – that Our Father’s breath has been blowing many new things into my path this weekend. Like usual, I never know what to do with a lot of the information He sends, so I jot information. I write in my journal, my prayer devotional book, and note cards. Some verses leap off the page at me, so I write them down as well. Thoughts pop in my head and beg my attendance upon them, and then – I wonder – wait – while away the time – as it all tumbles around in my head.

I know eventually – He will tell me what to do with it all – but for now I hold them close and ponder them.

I am a flower quickly fading:
Here today and gone tomorrow.
A wave tossed in the ocean,
A vapor in the wind.
Still You hear me when I’m calling.
Lord, You catch me when I’m falling.
And You’ve told me who I am.
I am Yours, I am Yours.” ~v.2

On my way to the gym, this song came on. Casting Crowns. One of my favorite Christian groups. “Who Am I?” One of my favorite songs, lately. Since Psalm 8:4 had been already wandering around in my mind, I took notice. God winks are hard to miss when your eyes are focused on Him.

Since I had been looking up information, reading, listening to choral music, knitting, and watching some of my favorite Christian movies, the thoughts began to sort themselves out. I still can’t see the clear pattern yet, or where it is all leading, but there is something. Something I am about to discover about “who I am”.

So tonight, I am still waiting and watching. I have to admit, I tend to love it when Our Father starts downloading something, and His Hope takes over everything that I do. My eyes continually look up. My lamp overflows with new oil.

“When I behold Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place— “ Ps 8:4a

As I sat on the patio swing, I do wonder why He cares so much about each of us. I betray His trust and love over and over – and yet – He is mindful of me. Even as a quickly fading flower or a mere vapor on the wind in the scheme of eternity, He continues to find time for me…and the butterflies that are all over the lantana bush… or the hummingbirds filling up for their trip South…or the two aging choc lab girls who sleep in the shade of a wisteria covered portico. There is much more to come out of this thoughtful weekend, but it is a start.

I reflect back that Job probably said it best, “What is man that You should exalt him, that You should set Your heart upon him.” Job 7:7

He trusts us with His heart…His Son…His Grace……..

Since the very beginning, so who am I not to trust Him with mine? 

2020 VISION: Sabbath Quaking

“Sabbath was (and is) a gift from GOD – a pause, a stopping point, a decision to take a break from going and buying and accruing.” Priscilla Shirer, Awaken, p. 108

This morning, the choc lab girls woke me up by barking and barking and barking. Ugh. I stretched and looked at the clock it was a little after 8 AM. I figured they were just ready to go out or heard a strange sound in the neighborhood.

Not the first time I’ve been wrong!

We got up and began our first early morning walk – pulled some weeds – cut back some branches – walked the newspaper up to my neighbor’s house – swept leaves off the deck and patio – cleaned out the garage a little – and then – one of the neighbors hollered at me: “Did you feel the earthquake?”

Huh????
Earthquake????

“It is the Spirit empowered choice to cease striving and enjoy our GOD.” Ibid.

After he explained what had happened, I sat down on the patio swing and enjoyed the morning under a bunch of semi-blooming wisteria, birds calling out their own news of the morning and a couple of butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees flitting in and out of the sweet smelling salvias and around the swing. 2020 has certainly been a year filled with things I really hadn’t ever anticipated.

“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.” – Isaiah 60:1

It was a good day to cease striving and enjoy God, so I did. I read some books. Threw the ball with the girls. Played with silly, spooky kitty. Made a few pickles since they were already cut up and sitting in the fridge – – but basically – – just spent time enjoying GOD and all His bounty that surrounds me everyday.

Prayed over my prayer list. Sang a few songs that never fail to stir the spirit within me. “Closer My God to Thee” Listened to a few Bible teachers who seemed to have the very wisdom I needed to hear. And just basically, ignored the outside world that so often intrudes on my time with My Father.

“It is the peace that comes in the midst of all the whirlwind and flurry of activity.” Ibid.

Sometimes – it takes a little bit of shaking to wake us up so that we stop whining and start shining. Tonight, I’m already yawning. School starts tomorrow, and I can’t wait to shine a little more. There is always something invigorating about a new school year. While this year will be a little more complicated, it will still be good to be back.

Setting the compass on the Father today was important to make sure my direction is sure and in line with the Son’s Grace and Love.

Sabbath Shaking was one of those treasure chest memories of 2020 that I will ponder in my heart for times to come.

“Sabbath is what beats our lives into submission, giving us the breathing room for getting our sanity back. We cannot afford to neglect the Sabbath principle.” Ibid. 

 [personal images/google]

2020 VISION: Sequestering the Quest

“When you are as old as I, my dear
And I hope that you never are…
You could squander away or sequester
A drop of a precious year…”

Sequester is one of those “old” words. The syllables tumble over the tongue as it is spoken. For a long time when I was growing up, I would read this word and thought it had something to do with searching for a dream – after all – “quest” is right smack-dab in the middle of it.

I think I was in high school or jr hi before I figured out the true definition. I was reading one of those classics, but can’t remember which one….. Bronte, Hawthorne, Twain? Oh well…what I do remember is sitting in my small town library in front of the fan on a hot summer day and being stunned. It changed that picture in my head that words always make.

Sequester, v. , to isolate, hide away.

“What good is a field on a fine summer night
When you sit all alone with the weeds?
Or a succulent pear if with each juicy bite
You spit out your teeth with the seeds?”

Sequester will always be mixed definition for me. I liked my first definition. I liked thinking it was partly a “quest”. And as I sat in front of that fan with its soft hum, I figured that it was a little of both. When I “sequester” myself, I am doing a bunch of things that I don’t usually do, and as I do, I learn something new about myself.

Quest – v., search for something.

I’ve decided that as I approach this new school year, I need this combined definition once again. At this point, my school is still set to open, but we are still a couple weeks out, so anything could happen. If I can just lift my chin a little higher if we sequester once again, I can still be on that quest together with my students even if we are far apart. Our Father has a way of closing gaps in all things.

“Now when the drearies do attack
And a siege of the sads begins
I just throw these noble shoulders back
And lift these noble chins…”

Quests are good for the soul. Jesus was on a quest the last three years of His life. At times, he sequestered himself to pray, to quest after His Father’s face, maybe to beat back the “sads” away and regain the strength to “throw [those] noble shoulders back” into his journey.

“But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.” Mark 5:16

So tonight as I yawn and think about sequestering myself for the night, I am singing this song in my head. (Actually, it’s been singing in my head most of the night.) Berthe in “Pippin” is one of those roles that I have wanted to sing since Ben Vereen’s performance caught my attention in the 70’s (I actually wanted to sing Ben Vereen’s part back in my 20’s). The good part – I wouldn’t even have to use make-up to play Berthe now. The lyrics ring a little clearer as well.

I think, “Sequestering the quest” is my new motto for the last half of my 2020 Vision. Berte isn’t really good at resting on her morals in this play, but that’s okay. That’s why its called “acting”. Maybe someday, I’ll stand on the OHIO Theatre stage in Loudonville, OH, once again and sing it. As for now, it is time to sequester and think a little more about this quest…and then I’ll rest on my morals.    

 

2020 VISION: War Room Wisdom

Do you ever feel like GOD just might be Gibbs slapping you?

It has been a couple wonderful days of Gibbs’ slaps that have just left me smiling. First, I got myself back into the my War Room. It is not enough for me to read devotions – online or book form. It is not enough for me to stand at my home altar as I pray for people on my prayer list or pray for our country. It is not enough for me to sit on my swing and sing old hymns or praise songs as I meditate on the wonder of all my blessings. If I don’t spend time just soaking in His presence first thing in the morning, I just feel a little – nope, that’s not right – I feel A LOT – lonely and a little off-center.

“Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.” James 5:1-6

After spending time in the War Room, walking the lab girls, meandering around the garden, I came in and started to read my devotions. But the nudge to look further wouldn’t go away. So I walked back to my bedroom and got my favorite Bible. The one I sleep with – the one that is bent and a little broken even though it is only 11 years old. Lo and behold, it opened up to James.

I wasn’t really surprised. When the Father wants me to see something, He usually Gibbs’ slaps me a couple of times with the same thing. First, one of my former students has been doing a short video series on 8 keys of wisdom that are found in the book of James. Second, one of my devotions also referred to James. So to have my Bible just fall open to James made me, literally, laugh out loud.

The first verse that caught my attention was: “Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming.” v.7a

I don’t know about you, but during these days of division and angry dissonance that caught my attention pretty quickly. And – those who know me, can probably see me laughing as I looked up and shout out loud, “Seriously? You start with that?”

Gibbs’ slaps from the Father are just that – attention getting and a sharp reminder all in One loving palm.

“See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!” v.7b-9

So often, I find myself strictly guarding my tongue. Words come easy to me- sometimes too easy. The rhythms and patterns of thoughts mixing in my mind before I even realize their shaping into a thought. I learned early in my life that words can be used to hurt or to help. However, I didn’t learn it easily. I tripped over my tongue many, many times, and unfortunately, watched others trip over my words even more. Wisdom came slowly and oft, at the expense of others.

As I read these verses today, I thought about how easy it is – in these days of instant communication – to “grumble against one another…” We watch. We shake our heads – one way or another. We judge. The log in our eyes grow larger and larger.
Such a short book in the Bible, and yet, James packed a lot of wisdom into 5 small chapters.

“Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”    v. 10-11

It is easy to lose sight of His Love, Light, Peace, Grace and Hope during these times of uncertainty and fear. We have a tendency – at least I do have a tendency – to lash out with those pesky words that we have learned to use so well – instead of leaning back, taking a deep breath and seeking His War Room Wisdom first.

James reminds us to look at Job. How did Job act as his family died? As his friends questioned him and his faith? As he lost everything that he had worked for and acquired?

We are living in the times of birth pangs – and for me – I find it fairly easy to identify with Job in more ways than I ever thought I would. It is my War Room where I lay it down in My Father’s presence and smile despite it all. His presence is the shield, the sword, the helmet, the belt, the shoes that I need to remember why the furnace is so hot, and the wisdom that will get me through it all.

Time is growing short. Birth pangs are hard. But – the miracle is coming. We only need to humble ourselves. Open the door to seek the War Room’s Wisdom. Pray as we have never prayed before for Yeshua Mashiach’s church – our country – our leaders – our family – our friends – even those we disagree with – our enemies – our world.

As I watched one of my favorite singers tonight, he and his wife reminded me of this song. So tonight, I am still, I continue to seek His face, and as I get ready to close my eyes, I am resting on His promises. So that tomorrow – I will try harder to shine His Love, Light, Grace and Peace each and every step of the way on this bumpy road.

We’ve got this – and best yet – Our Father’s got all of us. War Room Wisdom can’t be beat – it can only shine a Light in the darkness.

“As we gaze on your kingly brightness
So our faces display your likeness
Ever changing from glory to glory
Mirrored here may our lives tell your story
Shine on me, shine on me” – Shine, Jesus, Shine 

[google images/Greg Olsen artwork]

VISION 2020: Ouchie

Ugh – I wasn’t going to write tonight, but the nagging voice in my head won’t be quiet no matter how much I argue about being tired and having spent too much time already typing with a defective hand that is all His fault. Well…not really. It is my fault. When you are given a mandate for your gift, it really is not wise to go outside that mandate. That being said, GOD is good and reminds us when we fall down.

It just may be an ouchie reminder.

My mandate is that I am not to comment on worldly things – such as politics. I am to write about His joy – His peace – His love – His blessings. I am to teach as I have taught for the past – almost – 50 years:
Colorblind.
Truth based. (notice: I did not say fact based)
Light giving.
And sometimes – with a little humor/weeping thrown in for free.

Not easy for this very A type – teacher personality. We are used to controlling a classroom of 30+ kids – being an authority on whatever – offering opinions on everything that is thrown our way from those instigator kidlets trying to get us off topic. However, my mama and brother trained me well in opinionated thoughts.
I have opinions.
Strong opinions.

Sarcasm has always leapt to my mind before I even have a chance to think. It was the first classroom wisdom that I gained. Sarcasm is ineffectual as a tool to pass on facts/wisdom/anything. It alienates and decimates those who hear/see it. I outlawed it in the classroom long ago and I avoid it like the plague now. But it still leaps out in my mind at times when I read some of the memes and political stuff on social media.

“I have revealed Your name to those You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours; You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they know that everything You have given Me comes from You. For I have given them the words You gave Me, and they have received them. They knew with certainty that I came from You, and they believed that You sent Me.” (v.6-8)

In the past few days, I have returned to this chapter often. The image of a garden – hmmm – perfect setting since the garden was the first place man spoke to GOD. Jesus praying. In a garden. GOD made man speaking to GOD the Father. Jesus, Yeshua, praying.

Praying for me.

I think I love this passage the most because He says the mandate that rings in my ears even when I sleep. “I have given them the words you gave me, and they have received them.”

The Word gives us WORDSHis WORDS that the FATHER gave Him to give to us. Words that created the tiniest part of an atom. Words that breathed into our nostrils the Breath of Life. Creative words that we carelessly throw out so that we might exhibit our own version of truth –

Today, I allowed my fingers to ignore those things that I know that I know and typed a response based on worldly wisdom instead of Truth. Bandwagons are not what I am supposed to ride right now. That might change – but for now – Noper!!! So I typed. Turned off the computer. Stomach aching. I went outside. And out of nowhere, a wasp landed on my left hand and stung me three times – from the wrist to the index finger joint.

I am left-handed. Hint immediately received.

One sting I could understand – if I could see a nest or some reason for him to be around. I looked at him and couldn’t figure out what was hurting and moving down my hand. When he was done, he flew to a near-by rosebud leaf and disappeared under it. My hand is now beginning to return to normal – kinda. It is still swollen but the tingling, itchy pain is receding. Best of all, I can almost see a knuckle.

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You.” (v.1)

I needed to be reminded that Yeshua is praying for me – for all of us – especially right now. He is crying with us. He is knocking at the door. He is calling us to our home altars. The WORD continues to give us the words, so we need to open our ears, our eyes, our soul – and then – open our mouths – or in the case of social media – our fingers in response.

“Holy Father, protect them by Your name, the name You gave Me, so that they may be one as We are one. While I was with them, I protected and preserved them by Your name, the name You gave Me.” (John 17:11-12a)

How great is that? He prays for our protection. He prays for our salvation so that we may see the Father, face-to-face. He prays today as He prayed 2000+ years ago. Truth of the WORD does not change but is everlasting to everlasting.

So my wisdom of the day – don’t get stung by a wasp. OUCHIE!! It hurts. Better yet, remember His Truth. It is often said: “Words matter”. Even so, we forget that on social media forums – and sometimes with our friends – and sometimes in our families.

If Jesus, Rabbi Yeshua, thought praying was so important that He chose to do it in the darkest night of His life, I know that praying is still the most important thing we can do in these dark times.

[artwork by Greg Olsen/personal image]

2020 VISION: Birth Pang Prayers

The heart is heavy tonight. As a former teacher, Almost every day, I have a messages waiting for me when I log on to social media. I have read the fears and questions of those who lost their jobs in the past few months; fears and questions of parents struggling to teach their children and work from home, fears and questions of lonely seniors who miss their families and struggle with health issues; fears and questions of youngsters (stretched over a few decades) trying to juggle jobs, relationships divorce, confusion; fears and questions of first responders/ military who are struggling with what may lie ahead for them; fears and questions of teachers wondering what the classroom will even look like in August. The messages are from black, white, and all shades in between of friends who are rocking back on their heels – trying to find their balance as birth pangs ripple across the mid-back of their country.

The spine, despite its outer bony strength, weakens and shudders under the constant strain of inner shock waves electrifying every neuron throughout the rest of land. And yet – the Spirit nudges and fills me with a peaceful joy as tears drip down my nose. The promises echo and reset the heart as I write back to those who write me.

“God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
Though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.” (v.1-3)

I’ve been getting up 3 days a week at 5:30 a.m. since the salt water pool opened at our gym. I’m generally there by 7. Bouncing, stretching and talking to new friends for an hour and a half before I head home. The Choc Lab girls aren’t so impressed, but I give them a couple extra treats so they still love me. This week, I upped it to 5 days a week. Songs echoing through my head as I bounce or soothing me as I relax in the hot tub.

I have found – exercise is one of His blessings when the heart is aching.

It has been rainy for the past couple of weeks. Sometimes cold. Sometimes humid. Overall, not great days to be outside for me or the Lab girls. None of us like it, but we find ways to cope. I spend a lot long time with the Father. I play the piano more than once a day as I work on a new song. I wrote a couple of new things. I read a few chapters in my books. I spent time at my home’s altar.

Around the High Holy Days of 2019, I was moving things around in the kitchen and when I was done, I found I had made a small area with all the things that were part of my Christ journey – a home altar. I have had many altars in many homes. A place where my Bible rested. A place where I sat small tokens of the faith journey. Generally, they have been by my side of the bed. I still have one by my bed. A small light. A clay sculpture I made in 7th grade. Treasure from my Grands.

But in this past year of change, I needed one that I would see often throughout the day. The plastic cross and calico lamb that I got for my first Easter. A barn siding shelf that hung in my MIL’s kitchen made by her son. Pictures that hung in my parent’s and grandparents’ homes. Lights. Prayer concerns, requests and thankfulness. His promises. Treasures my kidlets had given me long ago.

An altar where the Living Water and Manna of my life centers my focus and helps me breathe through the worst of the birth pangs.

“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.” (v.4-7)

I am exactly where I am supposed to be even though -sometimes – I often wish I wasn’t. I am constantly checking and double checking myself with the fruits of His Spirit as I write and before I speak. I am trying to open my ears and eyes as I listen or watch others. I am waiting more than I move. I am trying to pray unceasingly to the I AM that lives within me – within all of us.

As my home altar – borne of birth pangs, has become a focal point of change within me and within my prayers for the people Our Father has placed in my life and for this country where I was born, I continue to find the stillness and peace of my Fortress even midst of birth pangs. And I find – that the “desolations” sprouting up around me, and around those I care for, are shaping me – and all of us – to be ready for His Revival. A Revival where He will be exalted among the nations and all the earth.

I just have to wait a little longer, pray a little harder, and share his fruits with all who are in my sphere.

“Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields[d] with fire.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.” Ps 46:8-11family altar 2020 [personal image]

VISION 2020 – All that Night

 

“…and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night…” Ex 14:21

Earlier this week, I found this Bible verse in my devotions, and it has stayed in the background of my heart.

Perhaps because it has been a long emotional week for many reasons.

Perhaps because the nights have seemed long and dark and lonely.

Perhaps because the seas have been stormy all around the world and those fearful armies just keep coming.

Perhaps because this hugger misses being hugged.

“And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them: And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night.” Ex 14:19-20

Whatever the ‘why’ behind the story, it dawned (get it?) on me today that despite the raging sea in front, the thundering armies behind, the impossibility in the face of reality, the LORD of Angel Armies never, ever forgets His people when they drop their closed, raised fists, reach out with open hands to their neighbor, find their knees, and seek His face.

His eyes shine light into the deep darkness, His hand of grace forms the wall between irreconcilable differences, His loving breath whispering a new reality.

2020 Vision eyes open.

And while 2019 did not go down in my journal as a favorite year, and so far, 2020 ain’t much better…yet…

And yet… all that night…

As I look at the stormy seas – look at the surrounding armies – see the darkness crowding my vision, I see His light piercing through – shining darts that add focus to my eyes.
A Grand reciting a poem he wrote.
A song sung at a Friday Shabbat.
Bittersweet treasured memories of loved ones swirling close to my heart.
Preachers speaking Truth through the Spirit, based upon His WORD.

His Light continues to break open the darkness around me – perhaps – brighter than I have ever seen it – or maybe – it is just my 2020 Vision has kicked in enough to see the immense spectrum of color that radiates within His Light. Whatever it is, I look up from my knees and know that …all that night… He breaths and makes all things new for all of us –
in the past –
in the presence –
in the future.

It is His promise through the whole Bible – a promise to make a way – through the raging seas – through the darkness – away from the overwhelming army at our backs – to return to where He has always wanted us to be – in the Garden of His presence.

“Loving each other with GOD as our Father,
Who loves us as a mother loves a newborn child.”                                          Marty Goetz, “We Being Many” 43573299_2108898659128790_37438499774791680_n[google image]

PANDEMIC 2020 VISION : Mother’s Day

“Honor your father and mother, so that your days may be long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” Ex 20:12

Today is the 54th day (by my count) of quarantine, and during it all, I have been writing a couple letters a day. When I was growing up, letter writing was the social media of the day. After all – long distance phone calls cost money back in those days, and the internet – well – lets just say it was a twinkle in the sky waiting to be pulled down to earth.

When the day came to clean out my parents’ home, I found lots of letters and postcards stuffed into corners, boxes and even a tiny suitcase. Letters from friends who had moved to other states, extended family who lived outside an easy drive, WWII buddies who had written to Dad, brothers who were serving in other countries, sisters who lived just 50 miles away. Letters unfinished in notebooks.

It was a treasure chest of times gone by.

Most of Mom and Dad’s letters were written on plain paper or notebook paper. I still have a couple they wrote to me in college, and a couple they wrote to each other during WWII that are beyond precious to me. Every now and then – when I just need to hear their voices in my head – I will pull out those letters and read them again. It is like an audio that never gets erased.

As I grew older, I noticed when Mom did buy cards, she would buy special ones. She bought one for my Mother-in-Law when she was battling cancer. Helen cried as she shared it with me; telling me how special it was because of the letter and the poem. Mom’s favorite cards usually did have poems written by Helen Steiner Rice. So as I wrote letters during this time of isolation, I pulled out some of Mom’s old cards and some of the poetry books that she collected by this poet. Thus, I included one with every letter I wrote as a tribute to her.

So – since tomorrow is the 55th day of quarantine (by my count), I am writing my Mother’s Day Card to Mom and my Mother-in-Law, Helen, in Heaven. Couldn’t ask for two better mothers who brought so much wisdom and love to my life. Needless to say, I’m enclosing a Helen Steiner Rice Poem.

“A Mother’s Love”

A Mother’s love is something
that no one can explain,
It is made of deep devotion
and of sacrifice and pain,

It is endless and unselfish
and enduring come what may
For nothing can destroy it
or take that love away . . .

It is patient and forgiving
when all others are forsaking,
And it never fails or falters
even though the heart is breaking . . .

It believes beyond believing
when the world around condemns,
And it glows with all the beauty
of the rarest, brightest gems . . .

It is far beyond defining,
it defies all explanation,
And it still remains a secret
like the mysteries of creation . . .

A many splendored miracle
man cannot understand
And another wondrous evidence
of God’s tender guiding hand.

– HELEN STEINER RICE  mother-in-laws[personal image]

PANDEMIC VISION 2020: Where are you on the Pandemic Tree of Life – Part II.

Like most teachers – if I give out an assignment – I should also do the work to set the example (gotta love Vygotsky). So here is my Tree of Pandemic Life Essay, a treasure chest memory of this time for the future generations. Notice – I changed the words in various places – call it artistic license.

Pandemic –

A word that stopped the world mid-orbit.
A word that we confidently touted as a historical concept.
A word that applied to 3rd world countries – certainly not this country.
A word on the peripheral vision of life – not something in my direct line of vision.

A word of eight letters – the eternal number.
A word.

Yet – here it is on my Tree of Life. I lived through this on a major scale as a baby, toddler, preschooler. Polio kept me out of the water during those early hot summers, but other than that, it didn’t touch me. However, it forged an indelible memory of standing in a line of friends and family on the small steps leading into the cafeteria of my 1955 elementary school. Mom and dad held my hand. My older brother stood off to the side with a group of his friends. A small cup of liquid to drink, and then the word disappeared into the history books.

Pandemic.

The word eased itself back into my lexicon on a whisper of a breeze in late 2019. As I looked out the window, warmed by my gas logs, the full extent of that word was still just conceptualizing itself in my mind. Was this how my parents felt after they had battled their way through WWII and were facing this word? I prayed for those far away who were dealing with it as I prayed for those dealing with locusts invasions, earthquakes, volcanoes, and other illnesses. Surely, this new virus wouldn’t touch the shores of this country. Our society has 2020 vision – science, technology, stability, cleanliness – surely, it wouldn’t float over here. Yet – it did. It picked up speed until gale force winds swept over each of us and the eye of the storm peered down upon us.
Collectively.
Individually.
Nationally.

Pandemic 2020.

The word storm buffets the doors and windows everyday now of this place I call home. No longer a word of the past, but a word brandied about in every day conversation as we “social distance” away from family and friends. The illness itself as evolved with one name into another name into another name – Covid 19. I look out the window. The dogwoods, azaleas, wisteria are blooming. Spring looks beautiful as usual, but the world is different. I look at the picture on my desk. Where am I on this Tree of Life?

Where am I on the Pandemic Tree of Life 2020?

2019 was an especially hard year for me. My 40-year marriage covenant had broken and the “one flesh” shredded. If this pandemic had come 6 months earlier, I would have chosen the little boy lying on the ground. My world and faith in myself scattered about me in pieces. But the promises of My Father, ever faithful, had the golden glue that slowly mended me into a new piece of art. One that He had seen since the beginning of the sparkles in my parents’ eyes. Since then, I have gotten up, brushed myself off, put on a new dress and started to re-climb my Tree of Life.

Pandemic 2020 caught me on a lower branch. And – while I still grip the tree trunk fairly tightly, every now and then I glance up. I see the One who is reaching down – just in case – just in case I need some help. My bare feet feel the rough bark beneath them. My toes tighten at times to keep my balance, and then I glance up again. His face is smiling down at me, and I am ever so thankful for the past two months I spent in the gym. My balance is better. My strength is better. My health is better. Best yet, my knees can bend once again to touch the ground as I kneel in prayer.

I smile up at that Face. Yeshua Mashiach is still there. Not far away. Not sitting on a throne in a far away place. Not judging my mistakes or fears. Just reaching down and smiling. Waiting to help if I need a hand to climb a little higher. Waiting for me to be willing as He sits on a branch of my Tree of Life – as if He had not better place to be in the whole world.

So where am I on the Tree of Pandemic Life 2020?

I am climbing.
I am reaching up.
I am smiling, because I trust the One who is guiding me upward.

[personal images]

PANDEMIC VISION 2020: Perfect

All social-distancing right now is actually social-togetherness: keeping our distance from each other is the gift we give each other to get through this together. And staying home and staying flat on our faces in prayer is what can flatten this curve.” Ann Voskamp

Blessed beyond measure is the only way I can describe it.

Spring flowers bring…allergies for me. Especially – as one grows older. Never had allergies growing up. Never worried about what food I ate or what weeds were in bloom – until a tiny bug bit me and turned my immune system upside down. Suddenly, spring and fall were not my “perfect” seasons, and I discovered that I was more like my mother than I thought.

Allergies blossomed in my life and show up regularly.

Now taking after my mother is not a bad thing. Everyone loved her including me. She could sing, tell jokes and whistle tunes loud enough for me to find her wherever she might be working. But – she also had allergies. I can remember her sitting at her vanity sniffing penicillin on a pretty regular basis. (I think I’m glad I never had to do that.)

When the world shuts down – – – is exactly when our thanksgiving needs to rise up.” ibid A.V.

For the past few years when ever fall or spring start blowing through the neighborhood, my sinuses start wanting to blow back. Worse – it usually turns into a bronchitis presentation of coughing and wheezing and sniffling and tossing and turning and whining and fevers and doctor visits.

Ugh!

This spring – praise the LORD – I have only had a stopped up left ear. No fever. No coughing. No wheezing. Perhaps a little whining and tossing and turning – after all – going from stereo to monophonic is a wee bit disturbing. Put off calling the doctor until it was really stupid on my part. (“Stupid, stupid, stupid,” as my mom used to say to herself or the TV.)

Good news?

Didn’t have to go to the doctor or anywhere near the hospital in these chaotic times. Got my meds at my drive thru pharmacy. Took a couple naps. Still blowing my nose. Still waiting with lots of thanksgiving for my ear to pop open. But mostly – – –

“Praising my Savior all the day long….”

“Pursue the things which make the peace and the building up of one another.” Rm 14:19

As I was thinking about all of this today, this thought kept repeating itself. Even in the tiniest of potential problems, Our Father knows and provides for His people way beyond what we can conceive. It may not always (or in my case – hardly ever) be the way we think it will be, but it is always perfect – at the perfect time – in the most perfect of ways.

Today was perfect.

I may not hear in stereo yet. I may not feel like mowing the yard yet. I may not even feel like going outside to walk the dogs yet. But it was perfect and full of His perfect words comforting me and nudging me forward. I am in awe of the way He loves me. Can I do anything less than to pay it forward and love those He has placed in my circle?

This is the perfect time to unite. The perfect time to bless each other with our words – even from a good distance away. The perfect time to not jab at others who don’t agree with me, but to find the things we hold in common. The perfect time to pray for my President, my congressmen, my civic leaders who are struggling, making mistakes, but trying their best. The perfect time to find solitude in isolation. The perfect time to bless others with His peace and love in anyway we can. The perfect time to stay home “… flat on our faces in prayer…[and] flatten this curve.”

Perfect – just as Yeshua Mashiach, the Holy Spirit and Our Father are.

“Be therefore perfect, just as your Father who is in Heaven is perfect.” Matt 5:48 


Blessings!Be!